Ahhhhh hindsight it a beautifully wicked thing. And no crueler does it get than in parenthood. As a new parent, totally green to it all, you blunder your way through, managing the best you can but somewhere down the line you will literally be tsk-tsking at some of the blunders and decisions you made along the way (hey, at least they created this parenting blog!).
Well, perhaps writing this post signifies closure? And if that’s the case, I’m happy for it. So with that, here are my 20 things I would do differently as a new parent…I hope someone can learn from my mistakes because if they can’t be useful as parenting tips then you know I’ll be crying into my coffee!
Gah! what was I thinking? That I would just breeze through three months and be ready to jump back on the work wagon without any emotional ramifications to myself or my daughter? Idiot.
Exclusively pumping for three months. Seemed like a good idea at the time in my single minded mission to do the best for my daughter but in reality what did it mean? Pushing myself close to the brink and spending less quality time with my daughter in favour of being attached seemingly endlessly to a pump. Why oh why?
3. Had more faith in my partner, sooner
What is it about new mums that make us so reluctant to hand over the baton to our other halves? Hormones? Some kind of weird programming? Whatever it is, it seems to be almost universal, and in our mission to try to prove that we can do everything ourselves, utterly counter productive.
4. Engaged a sleep expert
We had an absolute nightmare with sleep in the first year. I’m not talking about not sleeping through yet – most babies are not developmentally ready to do that until the best part of a year is over. But I’m talking about waking half hourly or hourly every night, and being awake for hours on end for days on end. Clearly something was not right and really should have got some help in to try and work out a gentle sleep solution. Very stressful all round and I literally want to go back and bop myself over the head!
5. Had gas and air from the get go during labour
My head was so filled with idiots saying don’t bother with gas and air that I didn’t! I struggled through with nothing, out of my mind with pain to even ask for gas and air til things got urgent and at the last, I had some – MAGIC! I’m certain things would have been a lot quicker, less painful and smoother if I had plugged myself in a lot sooner.
6. Got my hormones checked earlier!
After coming off breastfeeding, it seemed my hormones never settled down properly and a year later we have finally discovered the reason for all my crazy – a bona fide hormonal imbalance. Thank Lordy that I’m not being carted off then.
7. Taken a chill pill about sleep and naps
I was like the sleep and nap police! How long, when, oh my god woken up too early! I would be methodically noting and totting up the hours, angsting about whether they clocked up to the recommended. Idiot woman!
8. Got a baby cam sooner
Don’t ask my why but for some reason, we figured that because our baby was first, in our room and then, right next door we didn’t need one. We thought we would do fine with just our ears, but what our ears only hear, our minds imagine and it really is incredible the amazing peace of mind a baby cam gives you. A late convert, I still use one to this day.
9. Been more confident in myself and my abilities, sooner
Hard to do when you are struggling through a minefield of firsts, how-tos, why didn’t anybody tell me thats, and WTF moments. But I should have paid more respect to a mother’s intuition. It exists for a reason.
10. Spent more time enjoying those baby months
Where have they gone? Wrapped up in a blur of sleep-starved, befuddled memories. I struggle to remember those precious moments. I wish I had taken the time to be more present
11. Played the waiting game
As a new mum, I jumped to attention every time anything was needed, dancing around to a drum of demands like a lunatic. And so I found out later, it’s much harder to put down that drum once you’ve picked it up….
12. Bought less toys, and been smarter about the toys I did buy
Seriously, most toys…apart from the educational ones which actually engage your child’s minds…are a waste of space. Puzzles yes. Peppa Pig this that and the others, no.
13. Asked for more help
Namely, before I got to the part where I thought I was about to lose the plot. But sometimes when you are so far in it, you can not see the wood for the trees.
14. Played the waiting game
As a new mum I was the most eager beaver out, I jumped up like a Jack-in-a-Box at the slightest little mew, I stood to attention at every gurgle…and the precedent has been set ever since. Teaching a little patience in the early days would have gone a long way, in retrospect.
15. Worry less
As a new mum, I found myself lurching from one worry to the next – feeding, germs, sleep, illness…was this right, was that right…the worry only makes you a worse parent, not a better one.
As soon as I had the lightbulb moment that I should start reclaiming some of my life back by taking time out to do things for me, and to look after myself, being a parent got a lot more enjoyable. I just wish I had done it a lot sooner, and not felt guilty about it when I did.
17. Not google everything
Although there is no doubt that the internet can be an amazing resource and wealth of knowledge, as a new parent, it is a never ending rabbit hole of anxiety and conflicting advice which is better left covered
18. Not rocked!!!!
When I look back at the hours and hours I used to spend standing in a corner of the room, rocking my baby back to sleep at night I literally want to get my head and bang it on a wall. What were you thinking? One way ticket to non-self-soothing hell, that’s what.
19. Not tip-toed around
Shhhhh! Shhhh! The baby is sleeping, the toddler is sleeping. Well I know now that the little one couldn’t have cared less if an elephant had stampeded through the house while she was sleeping. Silly mummy.
20. Taken my little one for cranial osteopathy
In hindsight, I realise that my daughter having to be sucked out with a plunger at the last hour probably caused a whole world of hell for her poor little body, and she probably could have done with a little help to fix that.
What things would you have done differently as a new parent? Any of the above, or perhaps something different? I’d love to hear about any similarities or differences in a comment or two.